I first met Aaron when he started going to the University of Guelph Preschool where I worked. He stayed there for 3 years and I got to know him and his family very well. All the time that Aaron was in the preschool, he had very long hair, which was mostly never combed. I made lots of stories up about kids in the school and one of them was a story about Aaron’s hair running away because he didn’t like it.
It did not become a book for a long time because I forgot about it and didn’t tell it. Years later I changed publishers and my editor at Scholastic went through all the stories I had written down (about 120!) and said, “Hey! I like this hair story.” We decided to make it into a book.
I tracked down Aaron to tell him about the book and I found him in Toronto, Canada. He had his own rock band and his hair was messier than ever!!!
The photo shows Aaron with his family, and it is the model for the family shown on the first page of the book. The way Aaron dresses in the book is also taken from photographs. He loved to dress differently than everybody else and was the only kid I have ever known who would come to preschool wearing a tie!
The book is set in Guelph. This presented a problem for the editors at Scholastic, because the statue in the square at the center of Guelph is a naked family group. In the original artwork, Alan Daniel had faithfully drawn the statue just at it really is. Scholastic then changed it to a one-color silhouette that lacks all detail. I did not catch this in my final check of the book just before it went to the printer. So look at the dull blue silhouette of the statue in the book and think how much nicer it would be as a real statue.
The statue in question was donated to the city by the Guelph by the Italian-Canadian Club. Guelph had a huge Italian immigration after the Second World War and was more than half Italian for a long time. When the Italians donated the statue, a lot of up tight Presbyterians and Born Again Christians were very unhappy and city council had a long debate on the subject. Finally they decided to accept the statue, which was a good idea because it is a wonderful statue. For a while people kept putting Scotch Kilts on the naked guy [Presbyterian’s revenge?], but now everyone agrees that the statue was a wonderful idea.
[A note on the printing process.]
When I started out as a kid’s writer, the printer was sent the text and the artwork, and from that point on it was very difficult to change anything. Now, the whole book gets put on a computer and I can check the final version just before it goes to the printer. I love doing that with my editor. We can change the text and even the art. We can change ANYTHING. It gives me a lot more input in the final stages of production, especially about such things as text size and placement, which is very important for some of my sound effects (see UP UP DOWN)
Maybe you are thinking, “HA! Munsch does not even give his editor’s name. He is not being very nice.”
I would love to give my editor’s name, but if I do, lots of unpublished stories come to her at Scholastic, so she has asked me to not give her name.